Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Throckmorton quotes Driscoll "I made the mistake of trying to be under the authority of my elders" two types of revision in the history of MH

Warren Throckmorton recently highlighted a particularly curious interview between Grace Driscoll and Mark Driscoll recently that's worth commenting on.

There's a quote from Mark Driscoll that has to be heard and read to be fully appreciated.
Throckmorton writes:
At 5:23 into the video, Driscoll makes revealing statements about his views of his elders. These opinions give insight into the changes in governance at Mars Hill since 2007. Watch and take note between 5:23 and  7:00 minutes.

and the particular part of the quote Wenatchee finds interesting is here
That's one practical thing is, I'd never been a member of a church until I started my own. So I didn't know a lot about church. But I wanted, I knew I was a big personality and pretty intense so I wanted to be under authority but I made a mistake of--how do I say this carefully?--trying to be under the authority of my elders but the truth is all my elders were new and young and green and they would want to help but they really didn't know what they were talking about.

And so what I should have had was a team of pastors outside of the church who were older and more seasoned that could, you know, help Grace and I put life together.
There's a good bit of material Wenatchee already covered about the early leadership of Mars HIll over here

But in light of Throckmorton's recent post a substantial amount of review seems appropriate. This was material ready for publication or already published as of last night but how about it just goes up now?

Anyway ...

A team of pastors outside of the church who were older and more seasoned?  Wasn't Driscoll saying something in the James series about a team of some kind?
Pastor Mark Driscoll
James 1:1
January 12, 2014

I’m not just in authority; I’m under authority. I have pastors do my performance review, can rebuke me, can terminate me, whatever the case may be. It’s important to know that everyone needs to be under spiritual authority, including those who are in spiritual authority.

When I felt called to start Mars Hill, I went and met with elders. When I felt called into ministry, I went and met with my first pastor. I said, “I think this is what God’s telling me to do.” He said, “I think that’s right, but you’re nowhere near ready. It’s going to be a really long time.” “OK, I’ve got a lot of work to do.” When I felt called to plant, I went through a full assessment. Pastors oversaw me, a team interviewed me, a church sent me, an overseer had authority over me.

So that sure sounds like a team of pastors outside of the church.

Then there's even this old reference to Antioch Bible Church. Greg Kappas, and stuff
from Seasons of Grace
by Mark Driscoll

In the second season, Grace and I began attending Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, where we volunteered our time working with their college ministry. We then located in Seattle to be closer to students and after a few months I was brought on staff as a part-time intern to oversee the college group. I served in that position for nearly two years and learned a great deal in my first position of ministry leadership in a church. At that time I met Mike Gunn who had moved from a pastorate in Southern California to begin a ministry to athletes at the University of Washington. I also met Lief Moi, a local radio show host, who came in to teach a class for us. These two men and their wives and children became like family [WtH: but now Driscoll's recently claimed that at the start of MH there was no childrens' ministry because there weren't any kids] and together we began dreaming about the possibility of planting an urban church for an emerging postmodern generation in one of the least churched cities in the U.S. We began praying, studying the scriptures, reading a great deal on postmodernity, and dialoging together to formulate a philosophy of ministry appropriate for our context. Helping us formulate our launch plan was Dr. Greg Kappas, who graciously mentored us and provided wise insight and counsel.

 In the third season, we began a small Bible study in graciously loaned space from Emmanuel Bible Church in Seattle. The original small core of about a dozen people was a Bible study comprised largely of twenty-somethings from the college group, the Gunn and Moi families, and Chris Knutzen who had joined the Campus Crusade for Christ staff at the U.W. We began meeting weekly in an extremely hot upstairs youth room, and after a few months outgrew the space and began meeting in the sanctuary. It was during this season that the rest of our current elders - the Browns, Currahs and Schlemleins [but Mark was the only pastor on stuff, huh?] - and some singles and families joined us. It was also during this season that Pastor Ken Hutcherson and our friends at Antioch Bible Church began their generous financial support to cover my salary to ensure that I would not be a financial strain on the young church. [emphasis added]

In the fourth season, we launched the church in October 1996 at 6pm with an attendance around 200 [emphasis added], which included many friends and supporters. The attendance leveled off shortly thereafter, somewhere around 100 adults, and we continued meeting until the Christmas season.
And a third testimony by Driscoll about Antioch Bible Church

March 24, 2004
from 1 Timothy 5:17-25

When we started this church, I didn't get paid anything. First year, nothing. `Cause we had no people, we had no money. If you called the church, the church office was at my house, and I would answer the phone in my underwear and pretend like we were a high-powered organization. "Hi, thanks for calling Mars Hill." "I s Mark there?" "Yeah, let me get him." So I'd, you know, "Hi, how you doing?" I'd pretend like I had a secretary. I'd pretend like we were legit. I would, seriously. And I'm sitting there in my underwear just liek the short guy in the Wizard of Oz, just pulling the levers, maintaining the illusion of this tremendous empire. Woo hoo.

There's nothing, man. No money, no people, no nothing. The first year we put a box in the back, and I said, "Hey, if anybody feels led to give, feel free to give." Nobody apparently felt led. God didn't move in anybody's heart. The first year we brought in $90,000.oo, first year, which wasn't great.  It's a nice SUV, but it's not a great budget, and that first year I didn't have any money.  My wife was working full time. I was working full time while we were starting the church.

My wife started having major health complications from work, stress related. I told her, I said, "Honey, 1 Timothy says that, you know, I gotta make the money. If I don't provide for the needs of my family, I've denied the faith, I'm worse than an unbeliever. Quit your job. It's my responsbiility. I'll figure it out. I don't know how we're gonna pay the bills. We're not getting any money at the church."

And I was thinking about it, too. I started getting a little scared `cause I wanted to live in the city, do a church in the city, the least churched city in the country. I wanted to have a big family. I wanted to be able to pay my bills. I wanted to be able to have a nice church, and I'm going after 20-year old indie rockers that are committed to poverty and anarchy. Thinking, "This is not real liquid. This is not a brilliant business plan, really." You know, teenage kids who take scooters to church tend not to be a huge donor base, you know?

But I felt like that what's God said, "Go to Seattle and ... " You know, we lived in Seattle. I grew up in Seattle. I love this city. This is my home, so it was like I knew God told me to do that. I'm like, "Lord God, I mean, I'm cool with not eating, but I gotta get food fo rthe kids.  I gotta get shoes on the wife. What am I gonna do here?"

So I went to Antioch Bible Church and I said, "They're not, you know, we're not generating any revenue." Antioch Bible Church, where I'd been the college director for a year and a half, they gave me $30,000 the first year as my salary. Praise God, they gave me money, so that's waht we lived off.  My wife and I and my daughter Ashley, family of three, living in Wallingofrd on $30,000 a year. N omedical, no dental, no retirement, no nothing.  Had to pay all of that. And then we tithed out of that, and then we gave above and beyond that for hospirality and for wedding presents and food `cause all the Bible studies and all the meetings were in our home. So we'd feed everybody and have everbody over and do all that kind of stuff.

And so when you subtracted it all out just from the tithes, I mean, we're living off of about $24,000 that first year. And then out of that, you've gotta pay medical, dental, retirement, food, rent, car, the whole thing.  Family of three living in Wallingford, not a lot of bling. Didn't have the huge amount of extra the first couple of years.

Second year the church comes. Antioch kicks in again, gives me $30,000.00. Thid year Mars Hill still wasn't able to really cover a full salary for me, so I went out and raised some additional dollars from another church, Spanish River Church, in Boca Raton. They gave me about half of my salary.

So there were those people at Antioch Bible Church that gave Driscoll financial compensation during the years when Mars Hill didn't pay a salary.  The idea that there was no external accountability seems like it needs some explaining as to what that meant.

As for the "young and new and green".  Driscoll was the runt of the litter in terms of age and he'd made a point of recruiting older and more experienced men to help him co-plant Mars Hill.

But first let's revisit the later 2011 commentary Driscoll had so that it can be more clearly understood by the time we get back to Driscoll circa 2006 and 2000.
For the first five or six years of Mars Hill, I was the only paid pastor on staff and carried much of the ministry burden. I was doing all the premarital counseling and most of the pastoral work as the only pastor on staff. This went on for years due to pitiful giving and a ton of very rough new converts all the way until we had grown to about 800 people a Sunday. At one point I literally had over a few thousand people come in and out of my home for Bible studies, internships, counseling, and more. My phone rang off the hook, my email inbox overflowed, my energy levels and health took a nose dive, and I started becoming bitter and angry instead of loving and joyful. It got to the point where either something had to change or I was going to go ballistic and do something I really regretted.

Through much prayer and study of the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that I’d done a poor job of raising up leaders along with me to help care for his church. I was carrying the burden myself and was not doing a good job because it was too much. [emphasis added] I needed to transition from caring for all the people to ensuring they were all cared for by raising up elders, deacons, and church members. This spurred me to make some dramatic changes to increase membership and train leaders.

We began a process of intentionally challenging qualified men to step up as elders to lead, finding and training men and women to serve and lead as deacons, and we started a Gospel Class to clearly articulate what we believed about Jesus, the Bible, and the church to make clear what we expected from members. Our first teams were not amazing, but some of those people, through years of maturing by God’s grace, are now amazing leaders and servants.
Another problem that came from not having built a great team is that everyone expected me to be their pastor in a therapeutic model where we had 1-on-1 meetings every week.

Who was this "we" Driscoll was referring to?  Didn't he say earlier that he had done a poor job of raising up leaders with him?  Didn't he just say in the previous paragraph he was carrying the burden himself?  This ... within the first six years of Mars Hill?

For the sake of review:
Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan

page 54

... The church started as an idea I shared with Lief Moi and Mike Gunn. Lief is a descendant of Genghis Khan and his dad was a murderer, and Mike is a former football player. They proved to be invaluable, except for the occasional moments when they would stand toe-to-toe in a leadership meeting, threatening to beat the Holy Spirit out of each other. Both men were older than I and had years of ministry experience, and they were good fathers, loving husbands, and tough.  [emphasis added]...

Has Mike Gunn had any thing to share in the last five years?

The Harambee story is a bit wrapped up in my (Mike Gunn’s) story. The vision began around 1992 as I began to feel the need to plant a church that represented the diversity of God’s creation, as well as a gospel that centered on God’s glory and not our own needs. I was prompted by the Spirit to engage the culture in a more meaningful and direct way, so God decided to send me and my family on an unknown journey to Seattle to begin a campus ministry for athletes at the University of Washington. This began to hone our skills in apologetics, evangelism, and discipleship, creating a desire to reach the next generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

At that point, Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland and Mark Driscoll entered our lives. My family began attending Antioch in January of 1994, and we started helping the college group, which was run by Mark Driscoll, at that time, a 23-year-old intern recently graduated from Washington State University. [emphasis added]. It became obvious that we had similar backgrounds and ministry callings, so we began to explore the possibilities of our vision (reaching truly postmodern, post-Christian people for Christ), and it became abundantly clear that we were to begin a new work in the city of Seattle.

With the blessing of Antioch and the exodus of about 30 of the students, Mark, Lief Moi, and I began Mars Hill Church in October of 1996. [emphasis added] We watched God work His mosaic miracle as He began to put together the matrix that became Mars Hill Church. The church grew to more than 1,200 people in five years, and because of facility limitations at the time, we were running seven services at three different locations in the Seattle area. One of these was Mars Hill South, which began as an evening service in October of 2001 with about 40 people. During that time it became evident that God was calling us to a different work, and that we needed to plant as an autonomous church. Subsequently, as of October 6, 2002, we became Harambee Church and began meeting at the Tukwila Community Center. [emphasis added]

They say you should show and not just tell, so here are screen caps of the elder listings from Mars Hill circa 1999-2001 that show Driscoll was basically the runt of the litter.

What exactly about all of that suggests that there was no team in the first six years of the history of Mars Hill? 

Let's also not forget that as older and more seasoned men in ministry available to Driscoll went there was David Nicholas, right?

What about Grace's father, Gib Martin?

Oh, but in Real Marriage one of the points of resentment on Mark Driscoll's part was Grace's family so perhaps Mark Driscoll was of mixed feelings about Gib Martin's role as a pastor?

One of the things Driscoll asserted in 2011 was:

We began a process of intentionally challenging qualified men to step up as elders to lead, finding and training men and women to serve and lead as deacons, and we started a Gospel Class to clearly articulate what we believed about Jesus, the Bible, and the church to make clear what we expected from members. Our first teams were not amazing, but some of those people, through years of maturing by God’s grace, are now amazing leaders and servants.

Within the first six years of the church?  But if that's the case then Mark Driscoll playing some role in getting Paul Petry and Bent Meyer into the leadership structure of Mars Hill happened after this first-six-years period.  Again, who is this "we" if Driscoll was carrying the burden by himself? 

Moving along ... Driscoll wrote more in the piece about ten lessons from the early years:

While the sentiment of being a unified team was good, since we required a unanimous vote of the elders to do anything, the leadership team went from being accountable to being adversarial, stifling, and impossible. But, we could not move leaders on unless they chose to resign and leave. The truth is that when a church is planted, the first elder team will not be in place years later—even Jesus’ team of a mere twelve people did not hold together for a full three years, and we cannot expect to outperform his leadership. The goals of the church are not to secure power and position for leaders but rather to glorify God, reach non-Christians, and mature Christians by putting in place whoever is best suited for these tasks

This claim that a unanimous vote was required by some group keeps being asserted but evidence for the claim is rarely (if ever) produced.  As for the claim that "we could not move leaders on unless they chose to resign and leave" the testimony of Mark Driscoll himself suggests that they were letting people go.

CHAPTER FIVE, 350-1,000 PEOPLEpage 135

We had to quickly reorganize all of our systems and staff.  Our administrative pastor, Eric, left, which we all recognized was God's call on him.  And our worship leader was a great guy and great musician but was unable to coordinate the multiple bands in the three locations, so we let him go. [emphasis added] This was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made because he was a very godly man who had worked very hard and would have been fine if the church had not gotten so crazy so quickly, and he and his very sweet wife were both close personal friends of mind. But I needed a worship pastor who could lead mltiple bands, coordinate multiple services in multiple locations, and train multiple worship pastors while keeping up with a church that was growing so fast that we had no idea exactly where it was going. I had no one who could possibly fill this role but felt compelled to wait until God let me know, so I just left a gaping hole in our leadership to create a crisis that would force a leader to emerge. 

 Strangely, even though Mark Driscoll spent time repeatedly telling Brad Currah he'd seen Currah leading worship at Mars Hill in a dream that was taken as a divine oracle ... Currah didn't have that role for really all that long before "we let him go". 

For as much time as Driscoll spent in a post from 2011 explaining how he was carrying the burden of Mars Hill by himself anyone who visited circa 1999 to 2002 might have the impression there was actually a team of people and of people that Mark Driscoll actively recruited to join him in planting Mars Hill Fellowship. 

As a postscript, for those interested in reading an examination of pre-2007 bylaws to assess whether or not complete unanimity in voting was actually necessary:

There were decisions that executive elders made that had to have unanimous voting (with abstentions permitted) but the repeated claims that all MH elders all across the board had to agree on everything is simply not true. Not only was there a team but that team did not necessarily have to always agree on everything all the time at all levels for decisions to get made. 

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